Supreme Court Decisions

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Adarand Constructors v. Pena (1974)
Adarand, a contractor specializing in highway  guardrail work, submitted the lowest bid as a subcontractor for part of a project funded by the United States Department of Transportation. Under the terms of the federal contract, the prime contractor would receive additional compensation if it hired small businesses controlled by "socially and economically disadvantaged individuals." [The clause declared that"the contractor shall presume that socially and economically disadvantaged individuals include Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and other minorities...."Federal law requires such a subcontracting clause inmost federal agency contracts]. Another subcontractor, Gonzales Construction Company, was awarded the work. It was certified as a minority business; Adarand was not. The prime contractor would have accepted Adarand's bid had it not been for the additional payment for hiring Gonzales.  The question presented was whether the presumption of disadvantage based on race alone, and consequent allocation of favored treatment, was a discriminatory practice that violated the Fifth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause? The Supreme Court held that it did.  Overruling Metro Broadcasting (497 US 547), the Court held that all racial classifications, whether imposed by federal, state, or local authorities, must pass strict scrutiny review. In other words, they "must serve a compelling government interest, and must be narrowly tailored to further that interest." The Court added that compensation programs which are truly based on disadvantage, rather than race, would be evaluated under lower equal protection standards.  However, since race is not a sufficient condition for a presumption of disadvantage and the award of favored treatment, all race-based classifications must be judged under the strict scrutiny standard.  Moreover, even proof of past injury does not in itself establish the suffering of present or future injury. The Court remanded for a determination of whether the Transportation Department's program satisfied strict scrutiny.


Baker v. Carr (1962)

Barron v. Baltimore (1833)


Bethel v. Fraser (1986)

Betts v. Brady (1942)

Bob Jones University v. United States (1983)

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Brown I) (1954)

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Brown II) (1955)

Buckley v. Valeo (1976)


California v. Greenwood (1988)

Cruzan v. Missouri (1990)


Dennis v. United States (1951)

Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)


Edwards v. South Carolina (1963)

Engel v. Vitale (1962)

Escobedo v. Illinois (1964)

Everson v. Board of Education (1947)

Ex parte Milligan (1866)


Furman v. Georgia (1972)


Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (1985)

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

Gideon v. Wainwright (1962)

Gitlow v. New York (1925)

Goss v. Lopez (1975)

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)


Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964)


In re Gault (1967)

  Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982)


Katz v. United States (1967)

Korematsu v. United States(1967)


Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)

Lynch v. Donnelly (1984)
The city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, annually erected a Christmas display located in the city's shopping district. The display included such objects as a Santa Claus house, a Christmas tree, a banner reading "Seasons Greetings," and a nativity scene. The crèche had been included in the display for over 40 years.  Daniel Donnelly objected to the display and took action against Dennis Lynch, the Mayor of Pawtucket.  The question presented was whether the inclusion of a nativity scene in the city's display violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?  A divided Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that notwithstanding the religious significance of the crèche, the city had not violated the Establishment Clause. The Court found that the display, viewed in the context of the holiday season, was not a purposeful or surreptitious effort to advocate a particular religious message. The Court found that the display merely depicted the historical origins of the Holiday and had "legitimate secular purposes." The Court held that the symbols posed no danger of establishing a state church and that it was "far too late in the day to impose a crabbed reading of the [Establishment] Clause on the country."


Mapp v. Ohio (1962)

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Massachusetts v. Sheppard (1984)

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

Miller v. California (1973)

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)


New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)

New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)

          Abstract and Oral Argument

Nix v. Williams (1984)


Olmstead v. United States (1928)

Osborne v. Ohio (1990)

Abstract and Oral Argument

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Plessy v. Ferguson (1986)

Powell v. Alabama (1932)

Printz v. United States (1997)


Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)

Reynolds v. United States (1879)

Roe v. Wade (1973)

Rosenberger v. University of Virginia

Roth v. United States (1957)


Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000)

Prior to 1995, a student elected as Santa Fe High School's student council chaplain delivered a prayer over the public address system before each home varsity football game. Respondents, Mormon and Catholic students or alumni and their mothers, filed a suit challenging this practice and others under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. While the suit was pending, petitioner school district (District) adopted a different policy, which authorizes two student elections, the first to determine whether "invocations" should be delivered at games, and the second to select the spokesperson to deliver them. After the students held elections authorizing such prayers and selecting a spokesperson, the District Court entered an order modifying the policy to permit only nonsectarian, nonproselytizing prayer. The Fifth Circuit held that, even as modified by the District Court, the football prayer policy was invalid.  The Supreme Court (in a 6-3 opinion), held that the District's policy permitting student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games violates the Establishment Clause.

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Schenck v. United States (1919)

Sheppard v. Maxwell (1966)

Smith v. Allwright (1944)

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Ed. (1971)


Texas v. Johnson (1989)

Thompson v. Oklahoma (1988)

Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. School Dist. (1969)


U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995)

United States v. O'Brien (1968)

United States v. Leon (1984)

United States v. Lopez (1995)

United States v. Nixon (1974)


Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)

Walz v. Tax Commission (1970)

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services et al (1989)

Weeks v. United States (1914)

Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990)

Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)

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Chief Justice Richard Barajas
Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Politics
Cathedral High School, El Paso, Texas